I’ve waited over 30 years for a decent Transformers game. Admittedly, I haven’t played every single title that has tried to bring the glory of the Autobots battle against the evil Decepticons, but I’ve played a fair few, most notably those of recent years; Transformers: The Game, Dark of the Moon, War for Cybertron and, just a year or so back, Rise of the Dark Spark.
For 30 years I’ve waited to be transported back to the 1980’s, kneeling on the floor with robots in hand, transforming from vehicle to robot, dinosaur to robot and cassette deck to robot – you know what I mean right kids? None of the above titles have in any way reignited my passion for the Transformers, with most leaving me gasping in disbelief at how the franchise has been ruined.
But now, in 2015 the Transformers are back, with acclaimed developer PlatinumGames behind them, Activision in control and the full power of the new generation consoles powering them to glory. And what a glory it has become, for I make no bones about this, I bloody love Transformers: Devastation. Maybe it’s the inclusion of the iconic transforming noise, or perhaps it’s the simplest thing like seeing Optimus Prime voiced once again by the magical Peter Cullen. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because Devastation is a bloody good fun game.
Devastation has done away with the old style visuals of previous games, instead deciding to focus on the cartoon look that many a mid-30’s man will immediately be familiar with. Also done away with are the old action adventure styles that last years title attempted, now hitting a genre that fits the whole Transformers vibe perfectly…that of a complete and utter brawler! The action is super fast and the Autobots’ success in defeating the Decepticons boils down to how fast your fingers work, exactly how well you’ve acquired the requisite skills and whether or not you’ve learnt the most simplest of combos. Whilst much of the battling action brings a huge amount of button mashing melee, there are chances to fire from afar, picking the odd enemy off with a more strategic approach. But those are few and far between, with a quick cutscene introducing the enemy prior to everything kicking off big time!
Each and every battle is however in place to tell a story. Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack and everyone’s favourite Dinobot, Grimlock need to try and stop Megatron and his Decepticon army from harnessing the power of Plasma Energy, because if they do…well, it doesn’t wish thinking about. Whilst the missions are relatively straightforward but manic battle affairs, there is the chance to slow things down a little in between as the Autobots get a chance to check out the environments they are placed in. After a slow-ish start in which you’ll learn everything that you need to, you’ll eventually be able to control any of the five Autobots at any time, giving you the opportunity to play the game fully as just one of the team, or by utilising the whole gang. Personally, I found picking a specific Autobot for a specific task is very much the best way forward.
With a huge variety of skills in play, you’ll find Optimus is the stronger leader, whilst Bumblebee is great for scouting ahead but comes in seriously bereft of power. Sideswipe is on hand should you need to take to vehicle form and fight from afar, with both Wheeljack and Grimlock having their own unique moments to shine. That said, the further you progress, the more the individual abilities of each Autobot pale into the background as each character can be leveled up fairly easily.
If the story mode is over too quickly for your liking then not only must you be some type of magician (there’s a ton gameplay hours to be had in the main campaign alone), but the Challenge mode is in place for those who need even more of a test. Containing 50 completely different scenarios, some will see you tasked with fighting off the Decepticons, Insecticons and Constructicons, whilst others will see you needing to fire yourself round a street circuit as fast as robotly possible. Even then, with three difficulty levels and ranks D through to SS keeping you busy, you won’t be completing Devastation in a hurry.
Both game modes require you to ensure your Autobots are fully up for the fight with a lab giving you the chance to buy and sell new moves, items and weapons, whilst the T.E.C.H. section brings in a quick fire minigame in which you’ll need to stop a bar within a certain area. Do so successfully and you’ll acquire yourself some additional extras which can be equipped to help your guy fight it out a bit easier. There is also a hugely in-depth weapons synthesizer available for you to check out each of the 150+ weapons that come with Devastation. Each of these can be combined with each other and upgraded to devastating effect and is something that you’ll need to spend a good few minutes with if you want to see Optimus and co overpower Megatron.
So far then and Devastation brings fast fluid gameplay, a gripping storyline and a hugely deep customisation system. But whilst it’s not perfect, even the bits of Devastation that aren’t the best can be overlooked to a certain extent. That means the constant going back and forth over old ground and the slightly dodgy vehicle mechanics which are in place can be tossed to one side, giving us the chance to enjoy Transformers Devastation for what it is…a joyful look back at one of the best franchises of recent decades. I would however have loved to have seen more Autobots to get hands on with as the five in place all play pretty similarly with only a few skills, ie faster dashing and higher health points being the only real big differences. Going into battle as the Decepticons, telling the story from a secondary point of view would also have been stunningly good, but I’m happy to sit here and hope that has been saved for another time!
Transformers Devastation has been a long time in the making but it’s been a worthwhile wait that nearly, very nearly in fact, makes all those previous disappointments fade away forever more. It’s not completely perfect but I really don’t care, for what it has done is given me time to sit down again with my favourite space robots, transforming from vehicle to robot like I was back in the mid-80’s. There’s nothing like a bit of reminiscing.
Devastation IS THE Transformers title you’ve been waiting for. Autobots…roll out!